Montgomery: By Sept. 14, six months and a day after the state confirmed its first case, 15,527 Alabamians had been hospitalized at one point with COVID-19, with 126,299 total cases confirmed, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health. The pandemic is nowhere near over, but after summer surges that stretched the capacity of both local and statewide health care facilities – and prompted additional statewide action to stanch case spread racing out of control – the state is seeing some relief. Hospitalization numbers in Montgomery County are at their lowest rates, giving health care workers something of a respite. Dr. Vivian Hamlett, system medical director of Baptist Health’s Emergency Services, said she’s “really proud” of the persistence and resilience of medical staff through the pandemic’s first six months. “Sometimes when you’re in the middle of something, you don’t realize how big it is,” Hamlett said.
Anchorage: Race officials say the 2021 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race will continue as scheduled. So far, 61 teams have signed up for the 1,000-mile competition, which is expected to begin in March 2021. Race officials say they will work with an infectious disease epidemiologist from Emory University in Atlanta to develop proper precautions in light of the coronavirus pandemic. “Much like the 1925 serum run to Nome, the Iditarod has shown that it too can persevere through a pandemic,” race officials said in a statement Friday. A number of details about the race still need to be decided. One primary point of contention is whether teams will stop in remote communities along their route, as they traditionally would, Alaska Public Media reports. The Iditarod is consulting with local health officials, veterinarians and village leaders in addition to the Emory epidemiologist.
Phoenix: The pandemic is prompting Arizona State University to shorten its fall semester by a week, with any instruction during the one remaining week after the Nov. 26-27 Thanksgiving break conducted virtually. In an email citing “current health circumstances,” Provost Mark Searle also said Friday that the fall commencement in December would be conducted virtually. Under the schedule change, the fall semester will end Dec. 4, with the previously scheduled Dec. 7-12 week for final exams canceled. Searle said the spring 2021 semester will have courses “in a variety of learning environments to accommodate students’ needs depending on location or circumstance as a result of COVID-19.” According to Johns Hopkins University data analyzed by the Associated Press, the seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Arizona rose over the past two weeks, going from 575 new cases Sept. 4 to 774 on Friday.
Little Rock: The number of reported coronavirus cases increased by 549 in Arkansas on Sunday, while the number of deaths due to COVID-19, the illness caused by the disease, stayed the same, according to the Arkansas Department of Health. There are a reported 73,690 confirmed cases of the virus, up from 73,141 cases reported Saturday. The number of deaths remained at 1,181, the figure reported Saturday. The number of deaths includes both confirmed and probable cases. The actual number of cases in Arkansas is likely higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick. The department reported 6,256 confirmed active cases of the virus in the state and said that 67,853 people have recovered.
Los Angeles: The state’s death count from the coronavirus surpassed 15,000 on Sunday even as the state saw widespread improvement in infection levels. A tally by Johns Hopkins University put California’s death toll at 15,026, the fourth highest in the country. New York has suffered by far the most deaths – 33,081 – followed by New Jersey, which has about half as many. Texas is third. California, the nation’s most populous state, has the most confirmed virus cases in the U.S. with about 775,000, but key indicators have fallen dramatically since a spike that started after Memorial Day weekend prompted statewide shutdowns of businesses. The state’s infection rate has fallen to 3% in the past week, the lowest level since the first days of the pandemic. Hospitalizations have dropped below 2,700, the lowest since early April, and the number of patients in the intensive care unit has dropped below 850.
Denver: The University of Colorado has forced some students to move out of their dorms to create more isolation housing for students with coronavirus infections as case numbers continue to increase at the Boulder campus. The Denver Post reports the university said in an email to affected students that those living in the Darley North tower at the Williams Village complex must move to other residence halls within the complex by 5 p.m. Sunday. The announcement came as the university reported 130 newly confirmed coronavirus cases, bringing the total to 671 cases since classes began about a month ago. Officials say two-thirds of on-campus isolation space at the university is already full, with 151 beds in use out of 267 available as of Thursday.
Storrs: The University of Connecticut on Saturday placed a second dormitory under medical quarantine after several students tested positive for the coronavirus. UConn officials notified all 96 residents of the Willard C. Eddy residence hall that they were being placed under quarantine as of 4 p.m. Saturday because four students living in the dorm tested positive for the virus over the past week. “This rate is disproportionate to the positive cases we have seen among other residential locations and cause for concern,” UConn’s medical director, Dr. Ellyssa Eror, wrote in an email to Eddy students. UConn officials said 28 students living in Eddy were already in quarantine or isolation. Nearly 150 UConn students living on the main campus have tested positive for the virus since returning to Storrs last month. UConn recently lifted a medical quarantine at another dorm, while a group of off-campus apartments remains under quarantine.
Wilmington: There is help on the way for the state’s nonprofits, which have been struggling to keep their services going during the pandemic. Gov. John Carney and New Castle County announced the $25 million Delaware Nonprofit Support Fund, which will have two parts. The first part will be for reimbursement of operational expenses, like personal protective equipment and technology bought to meet safety standards. This will be administered by United Way. The second part will be for increased incremental costs as a result of a rise in need for the rest of 2020. This will be administered by the Delaware Community Foundation and Philanthropy Delaware. The fund comes as many nonprofits across the state struggle to keep their doors open, as need for their services has spiked. Before this month’s announcement, a number of nonprofits had yet to receive any extra state or federal funding.
District of Columbia
Washington: The district has added Delaware back to its list of “high-risk states” that will require travelers to self-quarantine for two weeks upon arrival to D.C. due to the coronavirus, WUSA-TV reports. According to the D.C. Department of Health, states are added if the seven-day moving average of daily new COVID-19 cases is 10 or more per 100,000 persons. The travel order applies to people coming to the district for nonessential activities. However, those who are entering the D.C. region for essential travel or after essential travel are urged to monitor any potential symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days. If they have any symptoms, they must self-quarantine and get tested or seek medical attention. During the time people are self-quarantining, the mayor’s order requires travelers to stay in their home or hotel room and only leave for essential medical appointments or essential goods when delivery isn’t an option.
Key West: Sloppy Joe’s, the iconic Key West bar that Ernest Hemingway frequented during the 1930s, reopened Thursday after closing six months ago because of the coronavirus pandemic. By noon, the bar had already reached the 50% capacity allowed by law, including three Ernest Hemingway look-alikes. Concerns about COVID-19 had forced cancellation of the 40th Ernest Hemingway Look-Alike Contest held at Sloppy Joe’s each July during the subtropical island’s annual Hemingway Days festival. Charlie Boice, who won the contest in 2015, traveled nearly 250 miles from Jupiter, Florida, to attend the reopening. “Coming back to Sloppy Joe’s is a wonderful thing,” Boice said. “For most people, it’s just a destination on a cruise or a destination on vacation. But for the Papas, this is home.” The three-night competition typically draws about 150 stocky, bearded entrants from the U.S. and other countries, plus hundreds of spectators.
Atlanta: The state has surpassed 300,000 confirmed coronavirus infections amid hints that a decline in new cases may be leveling out. With totals reported Thursday, Georgia was close to 301,000 COVID-19 cases and had reached 6,474 confirmed deaths caused by the respiratory illness. Georgia’s numbers continue mostly to improve, although cases, hospitalizations and deaths remain elevated over June, before numbers began to spike. Hospitalizations continue to fall. The number of confirmed cases in hospitals is below 1,500, down more than half from the peak of 3,200 in late July. And new deaths being recorded are also dropping, down about 40% since early September to below 40 a day. But the seven-day rolling average of new cases has drifted up for several days, and Georgia remains the state with the 12th-most new cases per capita in the past 14 days, according to data kept by the Associated Press.
Hilo: An outbreak at a veterans home has killed 18 residents and yielded three different investigations by state and federal officials. There have been 69 residents at the Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home who have tested positive for the coronavirus, with 28 receiving care in the Hilo Medical Center’s designated coronavirus unit. Four additional residents have been hospitalized, and 19 have recovered, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports. Two residents at the veterans home died of the coronavirus Friday. The 18 deaths at the veterans home account for all but one of the deaths on Hawaii Island. The veterans home has had a history of falling short on health standards, officials said. The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services gave the home a health inspection rating of one star out of five, citing multiple health violations between 2018 and 2019.
Boise: The state will remain under restrictions in the fourth and final stage of reopening the economy during the coronavirus pandemic for at least another two weeks, Gov. Brad Little said Friday. The Republican governor said intensive care unit hospitalizations of those infected remain too high, though many other metrics, such as a decline in the infection positivity rate among those tested, are improving. Most Idaho businesses, except for large venues, are allowed to reopen in the fourth stage. Little made it a business-themed news conference and touted a wide range of economic indicators, including the current unemployment rate dropping to 4.2%. It reached nearly 12% during the spring, when the virus entered Idaho and businesses started shutting down. Little attributed most of the good economic numbers to Idaho residents for taking precautions to avoid spreading the virus. “People are making sacrifices,” he said.
Chicago: Parents and players protested Saturday outside a state building in the city, pleading with Gov. J.B. Pritzker to lift his fall ban on some popular high school sports. Players in jerseys and varsity jackets chanted, “Let us play!” outside the Thompson Center. “It’s our way of escape,” said Myles Mooyoung, a senior football player at Kenwood Academy High School in Chicago. “It’s how we get scholarships.” A rally was also held in Springfield. In response to the coronavirus, Pritzker won’t allow games in football, hockey, lacrosse, rugby, wrestling, competitive cheer or dance. The Illinois High School Association moved football and a few other sports to spring, although the group might be having second thoughts after seeing other states play fall sports. “We can do this safely, just like everyone else in the Midwest,” said Jaylen Brown, a football player at Wheaton Warrenville South High School. Pritzker appears unlikely to budge.
Indianapolis: Animal control officials are seeking a new home for an abandoned dog whose owner says he lost his job and was about to lose his home due to COVID-19. The dog was found tied to a tree with a note attached to the collar, according to WTHR-TV. “I was a spoiled girl, my dad gave me my own couch to lay on and my own memory foam bed,” the note said. “My dad lost his job and soon his home from COVID.” Johnson County Animal Control Director Michael Delp said he’s a seen an increase in the number of people surrendering pets during the pandemic, but pets should be taken to a shelter. “My heart certainly goes out to that individual,” Delp said. “However, to release a dog out in the middle of nowhere, that’s just not the way to go about it. There’s all kinds of things that could happen to this animal. Struck by a vehicle or attacked by other animals.” The dog, named Roadie, is at the county shelter and will be up for adoption.
Des Moines: Students in the state’s largest school system are facing the possibility that this most unusual school year could stretch into next summer, and the district could be hit with crippling bills because of a dispute with the governor over the safety of returning to classrooms during the coronavirus pandemic. Des Moines school officials have repeatedly refused to abide by Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds’ order requiring districts to hold at least half their classes in person. For Des Moines, it’s a question of trying to keep its more than 33,000 students and 5,000 staffers from contracting the disease. But after the school board last week again voted to violate Reynolds’ order, the governor called the action “unacceptable” and began the process for punishing the district. Reynolds has dismissed Des Moines officials’ concerns, noting that nearly all other Iowa districts have reopened classrooms despite some virus outbreaks, saying, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”
Lawrence: City officials are giving police more power to enforce crowd size limits and other health orders designed to stem the spread of the coronavirus after neighbors raised concerns about large house parties near the University of Kansas campus. City commissioners voted 4-1 Thursday to approve an ordinance that uses an existing state public nuisance law to give police the authority to issue up to a $500 ticket to violators, the Lawrence Journal-World reports. The number of COVID-19 cases has surged in recent weeks as university students returned. The university reported 882 positive cases as of Friday. Local officials said the goal isn’t to issue a lot of tickets but to get people to comply with health orders, particularly one that prohibits gatherings of 45 or more people if it is not possible to maintain 6 feet of distance.
Louisville: Adult obesity continues to increase in the Bluegrass State, which is especially alarming during the COVID-19 pandemic because obesity is linked to a higher rate of hospitalizations and more severe outcomes for those infected by the coronavirus, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Kentucky is now among 12 states with 35% or more of adults who are obese, according to the CDC announcement last week. The rate of obesity is 36.5%, according to the federal agency, using 2019 data, the latest available. In 2018, nine states had rates of obesity above 35%, which was an increase from six states in 2017. Kentucky now ranks third, up from fifth last year, in its rate of adults who are overweight and obese, according to a separate report released by the Trust for America’s Health, a nonprofit health policy group. It found that about 72% of Kentuckians are either overweight or obese.
Lafayette: Lafayette Parish School System employees are fielding calls from students about how to log in to virtual learning, change their passwords and other technical issues that crop up as they cope with remote instruction during COVID-19. At least 30 teachers, librarians and technology staff serve as technical facilitators at the central office and schools across the district to answer the questions, with each school donating at least six hours a week, said Chief Administrative Officer Jennifer Gardner. This allows for four employees at one time to be on hand to answer families’ “requests for help” submitted online or by calling the Link & Learn technology help desk. During the first week of school, a four-day week due to Labor Day, the help desk fielded nearly 1,000 requests, and 95% have been solved, said Ryan Domengeaux, CEO of the William C. Schumacher Family Foundation.
Portland: A late spring frost, a devastating drought and labor troubles wrought by the coronavirus pandemic conspired to make 2020 a difficult year for America’s producers of wild blueberries, largely located in Maine, where the industry has battled fungal plant diseases and erratic market conditions in recent years. The harvest takes place every summer, and this year’s crop was likely far off last year’s total of about 87 million pounds, industry experts said. One of the biggest problems was the drought, which afflicted much of northern New England throughout the summer. The rural Maine counties that contain most of the country’s wild blueberry fields are even now facing moderate drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. The pandemic also made it more difficult to hire seasonal workers and created a need for additional safety measures that complicated the harvest.
Baltimore: A new version of the state’s unemployment insurance portal created frustration among claimants who said they were unable to file their claims upon its launch before the issue was later resolved. The technical glitches came as BEACON 2.0, an update of the BEACON portal that experienced a surge in unemployment applications due to the coronavirus pandemic, was launched Sunday, The Baltimore Sun reports. It was not clear how many people were affected by the glitches, but many had taken to social media groups designed for claimants to post about the update. Maryland Labor Department spokesperson Fallon Pearre said the problem was resolved by the software vendor later Sunday, and more than 112,000 claimants had successfully filed their claims as of 3 p.m. that day.
Boston: Housing advocates are pressing state lawmakers to take action on a bill they said would extend protections for tenants facing eviction due to the coronavirus pandemic. The initial pause on evictions and foreclosures in Massachusetts took effect in April and was scheduled to expire Aug. 18 but was extended until Oct. 17. Landlords have sued the state, calling the eviction ban unconstitutional, arguing that it restricts their free speech and their ability to acquire compensation for unlawful land taking. A federal judge has indicated he would let the ban stand. The bill being pushed by housing advocates would ensure tenants cannot be evicted because of missed rent if the nonpayment was due to COVID-19, giving them time to get rental arrearage and other assistance in place. It would also prevent “no fault” evictions and rent increases for 12 months following the state of emergency.
Lansing: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said her use of emergency powers to manage the pandemic is not unique, and she worries that efforts to take away her unilateral authority, if successful, could lead coronavirus cases to spike to dangerous levels in Michigan. The Democrat locked down the state in the spring, when the deadly virus hit and threatened to overwhelm hospitals, but she has since reopened schools and much of the economy – with restrictions on gathering sizes and businesses such as restaurants. Throughout the summer, Michigan has fared better with COVID-19 than many other states after it was initially a hot spot nationally. Michigan’s per-capita rate of new cases in the past two weeks ranks 13th-lowest among states, according to an AP analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.
St. Paul: Six months after declaring a state of emergency to combat the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Tim Walz believes the steps he took saved lives but acknowledges that if he had known earlier in the crisis what he knows now, he would have done some things differently. For example, Walz said in an interview, “maybe I could have extended the stay-at-home order a bit longer” to prevent more Minnesotans from contracting the virus. The Democratic governor wonders if he had taken a “more bipartisan approach” and given Republican lawmakers a larger role in making policy decisions, maybe the issue “wouldn’t have been so politically charged.” The state might also have tested more health care workers for infections and eased restrictions on nursing homes and other long-term care facilities earlier, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. “If I had all the data then that I have now, yeah, I would have made some decisions differently,” he said.
Brookhaven: A teacher says she was fired after refusing to teach in a crowded classroom amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Shunta Davis told WJTV it would be impossible to maintain social distance with the 24 or so students she was supposed to teach at Lipsey Middle School. After she missed the first day, Davis said, the principal and deputy superintendent delivered a letter to her that said she doesn’t have any underlying medical conditions, and if she didn’t come back, she would be fired. Davis’ four children are taking part in virtual learning. The district has allowed the option for students for the first nine weeks, but Davis is concerned about teachers. She’s afraid of transmitting coronavirus to her mother, who has health issues of her own. Davis was a three-time teacher of the year, earned a AAA endorsement on her teaching license and was nominated for a 12 News’ Cool Schools highlight, the station reports.
Kansas City: A Kansas City Chiefs fan who tested positive for COVID-19 one day after attending the season opener was allowed into an open-air field box in the stadium’s lower level without a negative test through a lapse in protocol, health officials say. Chiefs policy stipulates that fans be tested for the virus before being admitted to suites, including the lower-level field boxes. They are mailed tests, and each suite has a designated administrator charged with handing out tickets to those who’ve received negative results. Those in regular seats are not tested, The Kansas City Star reports. Kansas City Health Department spokesman Bill Snook said the agency is working with the Chiefs, who are responsible for the testing, to strengthen the protocol. The health department announced Thursday that it told 10 fans to quarantine after possibly being exposed to COVID-19 during the Sept. 10 game against the Houston Texans.
Helena: Two universities in the state have reported declines in student enrollment, attributing the drop to shifted student plans during the pandemic as debates continued over remote learning or in-person instruction. The University of Montana in Missoula reported a 4.5% decline in student enrollment, while Montana State University in Bozeman reported a 3% decline. Data from the University of Montana shows 10,015 students enrolled for the fall semester compared to 10,487 this time last year, the Missoulian reports. However, the data also showed an increase in student retention from 71% to 75%. The retention rate is the percentage of first-year students who return for a second year. “Due to many student hardships created by COVID-19, UM is exercising a Board of Regents procedure that allows Montana universities additional time to work with students to finalize their registration status,” the university said in a statement.
Lincoln: Six more state corrections employees have tested positive for the coronavirus as the number of cases in the state prison system continues to grow. Three employees at the Nebraska State Penitentiary in Lincoln and three employees at the state Diagnostic and Evaluation Center tested positive for COVID-19, the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services said in a news release Saturday. With the new cases, a total of 127 state prisons workers have now tested positive for the virus, with 42 of those cases coming in the past week. Sixty-four of those individuals have recovered. The agency said on its website that 196 inmates had tested positive for the coronavirus as of Friday, and one inmate had died. The state said 9.9% of the 1,979 inmates who have been tested were positive for the virus.
Las Vegas: Patrons showed up at bars in and around Las Vegas to celebrate their reopening after weeks of a coronavirus-driven shutdown. Customers came late Sunday just before midnight eager to sit at a favorite bar, including establishments inside restaurants and casinos. But most bars saw light foot traffic, as they must follow social distancing guidelines and limited capacity rules. The Nevada COVID-19 Mitigation and Management Task Force agreed last week to relax the last of the bar closure orders that Gov. Steve Sisolak reimposed July 10. The order limited social gatherings where alcohol is served in coronavirus pandemic hot spots around the state. Taverns, bars, breweries, distilleries and wineries in the Reno-Sparks area were allowed to reopen last week, following a previous task force decision. Nightclubs and other entertainment venues remain closed, although Sisolak has said he will review coronavirus directives.
Portsmouth: With the arrival of cooler weather, restaurateurs in the state are worried that outdoor dining will soon come to an end, necessitating changes to indoor dining guidelines to help restaurants survive until spring. Matt Louis, chef and owner of The Franklin, Moxy, Street and Luigi’s West End Pizza in Portsmouth, said a balance needs to be found to help restaurants. “We have been doing really good here in terms of COVID-19 cases,” Louis said. “Many of us are getting creative in what we do, and I applaud that. But I would like to see the state recognize our success and look at alternatives, things like using dividers between tables.” The New Hampshire Lodging and Restaurant Association is working with state and health officials for options when wintry weather makes outdoor dining impossible, said Mike Somers, the association’s president.
Trenton: The state has surpassed 200,000 cases of coronavirus, becoming the eighth state in the country to reach the grim milestone. The state reported nearly 400 cases Monday, pushing the statewide total to 200,154, Gov. Phil Murphy announced. The share of virus tests coming back positive is 1.81%, with lower positivity in the northern part of the state and higher positivity in the south. Every county in New Jersey has had at least 1,000 cases of the virus except for Cape May, which stands at 999 cases. About 30% of new cases are concentrated in Ocean and Monmouth counties, officials said. Judy Persichilli, the state’s health commissioner, blamed large social gatherings for rising cases in Monmouth County. She singled out Lakewood for driving up the number of new cases in Ocean County but said the state has not been able to identify exact causes.
Santa Fe: Health officials on Sunday reported 67 new confirmed coronavirus cases with two additional deaths, increasing the statewide totals to 27,579 cases and 849 known deaths since the pandemic began. Of the 67 new cases, New Mexico Department of Health officials said 14 cases were in Chaves County, with 12 in Dona Ana County and 11 in Bernalillo County. According to Johns Hopkins University data analyzed by the Associated Press, the seven-day rolling average of daily new COVID-10 cases in New Mexico and daily deaths both decreased over the past two weeks. The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.
New York: Monday’s return to the city’s schools wasn’t the one anyone planned for. For most, it wasn’t a return at all. Only pre-kindergarten and some special education students were scheduled to end a six-month absence from school buildings after a last-minute decision to postpone, for the second time, plans to be among the first big districts to resume in-person instruction after the coronavirus forced students and staff home. Mayor Bill de Blasio greeted pre-K students at a school in Queens and praised the “air of energy and spirit” among teachers and pupils. “To see those children so engaged, so happy to be there, it was truly inspiring,” de Blasio said. Schoolchildren in kindergarten through 12th grade started the new school year Monday, but fully remotely, the same way many of the state’s other urban districts have.
Raleigh: The state’s unemployment rate dropped markedly in August, according to government figures, falling to nearly half the record rate during the spring at the height of business and movement restrictions issued during the COVID-19 pandemic. The 6.5% jobless rate is 2 percentage points lower than the seasonally adjusted rate in July, according to the state Department of Commerce. The July rate had increased compared to June. The national rate for August was 8.4%. The state rate for April was 12.9%, which marks the highest seasonally adjusted rate for North Carolina since 1976, when the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics began keeping records in the manner it currently does. The jobless figures for August mask partly the reduction in the overall number of people in the workforce by almost 72,000 compared to July, falling to 4.83 million people. That could signal some residents have stopped looking for work.
Bismarck: State health officials on Sunday confirmed 352 new positive tests for the coronavirus, for a weekend total of 731 and an overall total of 17,958 cases since the pandemic began. The update included 112 active cases in the prior day, bumping the weekend total to 222 and the overall mark to 3,208. There were more than 562 new cases per 100,000 people in North Dakota over the past two weeks, which ranks first in the country for new cases per capita, according to the COVID Tracking Project. A combined 141 cases from Burleigh and Cass counties were listed on Sunday’s report. The state’s hospitalization rate, which officials consider a key barometer for judging threat levels, remains in double figures. The latest figures showed three new people admitted to medical facilities, for a total of 81. No new deaths were reported Sunday, following a day when the death toll rose by eight, to 192.
Cincinnati: A local nonprofit is offering free COVID-19 testing to the homeless population and general public. Maslow’s Army, in partnership with several local agencies, is working to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by offering people the option of walk-up or drive-thru testing. The goal is to save lives, said Brian Garry, the chief advisor for Maslow’s Army. “We cannot stand idly by,” he said in a news release. “We have to do something. While we are trying to protect those experiencing homelessness, we are also here to protect the general public as well.” The testing will take place outside the Hamilton County Justice Center every Sunday until December. Testing is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The organization, through several outreach initiatives, helps people struggling with homelessness to get back on their feet. Free coffee and donuts start at noon.
Oklahoma City: The number of reported coronavirus cases in the state increased by 1,101 on Monday, marking the fifth consecutive daily increase of more than 1,000 reported cases, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health. The department also reported two additional deaths due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the illness, bringing the latest numbers to 77,908 confirmed cases of the virus and 948 deaths. The actual number of cases in Oklahoma is likely higher because many people haven’t been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick. The health department reported 12,019 active cases and said that 64,941 people have recovered, with 522 people currently hospitalized for COVID-19.
Salem: A Marion County woman died after testing positive for COVID-19, officials from the Oregon Health Authority announced Sunday. The new reported death raises the state’s death toll from the pandemic to 526. It was the first COVID-19-related death reported in the state since Sept. 16. The 73-year-old woman in Marion County tested positive Sept. 1 and died Sept. 18 at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center. She had underlying conditions, officials said. OHA reported 208 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19, including 21 in Marion County and one in Polk County, bringing the state total to 30,801.
Middletown: Gov. Tom Wolf will go through with a veto of a bill that would give school districts the sole ability to make decisions on sports, including whether and how many spectators to allow, he said Monday. The Wolf administration’s gathering limits of 25 people indoors and 250 people outdoors apply to youth sports, but legislation that cleared the state House and Senate would empower schools to make their own rules about the number of spectators permitted at games. Some families have chafed at the statewide limits, saying attendance could safely be expanded while still allowing for adequate physical distancing. Wolf, a Democrat, said at a news conference that statewide gathering limits need to be applied consistently to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Pennsylvania has reported more than 150,000 confirmed virus infections and 8,000 deaths attributed to COVID-19.
Providence: The state’s two casinos, which reopened in June after being closed for several months because of the coronavirus, are further expanding their weekend hours later this month. Twin River Casino Hotel in Lincoln and the Tiverton Casino Hotel will be open all weekend until 3 a.m. on Sundays and also will remain open 24 hours on Sundays before a Monday holiday starting Sept. 25, Twin River announced Monday. “We’re pleased to expand our weekend hours of operation and take one step closer to some degree of business as usual,” Marc Crisafulli, president of Twin River’s Rhode Island operations, said in a statement. Coronavirus safety measures, including social distancing and mandatory face coverings, will remain in effect.
Columbia: A federally funded initiative to ramp up coronavirus testing in the nation’s hot spots has arrived in the city. People ages 5 and older will be able to access free tests through self-administered nasal swabs at two locations in Columbia for the next two weeks. U.S. Surgeon General Vice Admiral Jerome M. Adams joined Gov. Henry McMaster and other leaders at one of those locations, Martin Luther King Jr. Park, on Saturday, the first day of the testing program. People do not have to have symptoms to take the test. The sites can test up to 5,000 people per day. “I’m issuing the challenge, South Carolina. Come on out and get tested. It’s free. It’s easy,” Adams said. The other testing location Founders Park at the University of South Carolina, where more than 2,000 students and employees have contracted the virus since Aug. 1.
Fort Pierre: The Stanley County School District is moving all classes to distance learning beginning Tuesday because of the coronavirus. Classes Monday were canceled, and students have been directed to pick up textbooks and electronic devices, according to district officials. Superintendent Daniel Hoey said the reason for the change is “staff exposure and subsequent quarantining,” KCCR reports. Traditional classes for junior kindergarten through 12 grade are to resume Oct. 1. The district has an enrollment of about 400 students. Pierre High School, nearly 4 miles from Stanley County High, canceled classes last Friday after roughly 15 high school students tested positive for COVID-19 and at least 150 others were asked to quarantine. Stanley County also announced Sunday that all extracurricular activities will be suspended while the school is in distance learning.
Memphis: Christian Brothers High School is moving to online courses for the next two weeks after six coronavirus cases were identified among students and staff, administration officials confirmed Monday. The cases are among two employees – a teacher and a staff member – and four students, spokesperson Jamie Elkington said in an email. She said the two employee cases are related, and two students’ cases are related. The other two student cases are isolated from others. According to a parent email, the three most recent cases, among two students and a faculty member, were on campus last week, prior to experiencing symptoms. So far, CBHS has not found evidence of COVID-19 transmission on campus, Elkington said. The school credits its hybrid learning model, in which only half of the student body is on campus at a time, and additional safety protocols of screenings, masking, social distancing and regular cleanings.
Austin: State health officials on Sunday reported 2,466 new coronavirus cases and 45 more deaths due to COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus. There are a reported 688,534 total cases and 14,893 deaths, up from 686,068 confirmed cases and 14,848 deaths reported Saturday, according to the state health department. The true number of cases is likely higher, though, because many people haven’t been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick. The department estimated that 609,210 people have recovered from the virus, that there are 64,431 active cases and that 3,081 patients with COVID-19 were hospitalized.
Salt Lake City: The University of Utah will stop in-person classes for two weeks as the state deals with a coronavirus spike shortly before a planned U.S. vice presidential debate, officials said Monday. The temporary move to online remote learning comes as Utah deals with a surge that began after schools and colleges resumed classes. It hit a new high Friday with a record number of confirmed cases in a single day. Republican Gov. Gary Herbert has so far resisted issuing a statewide mask mandate but recently said he’ll consider new measures. The institution had already planned to shift to online coursework around the time of the Oct. 7 debate and has now decided to extend that plan. It includes employees working from home and many buildings being closed to the public. The two-week “circuit breaker” begins Sept. 27.
Bellows Falls: The community is reviewing its requirements for parade permits after members of the town fire department held a parade to commemorate the 9/11 attacks without masks. Acting Bellows Falls Municipal Manager Charles “Chuck” Wise said he “foolishly” assumed people would be wearing masks when he issued the permit granted so the Westminster Fire Department could walk 3.43 miles through the community to commemorate the 343 New York firefighters killed in the 2001 attack. “On Aug. 31st, I issued a permit to Westminster Fire to walk 3.43 miles in full gear to include air packs,” Wise told the Brattleboro Reformer. “It never occurred to me to request masks.” Wise said when he got to Bellows Falls the morning of Sept. 12 to watch the walk, none of the firefighters were wearing masks.
Newport News: Most classes at the state’s community colleges will remain online early next year, the system’s head announced months before the spring semester to “minimize the disruptions” for students from COVID-19. Chancellor Glenn DuBois sent word of the system’s plan to students at the 23 colleges Friday, The Daily Press of Newport News reports. “In announcing this decision now, we prioritize your safety, your family’s safety, and that of your community – all while giving you as much time as possible to plan your spring semester,” DuBois wrote. Staying online is the “safest and most prudent choice” with the continued pandemic and the traditional cold and flu season arriving, he said. Like the current fall semester, some in-person classes will be held in the spring for short-term career credential and technical programs.
Olympia: Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman is asking a court to declare that electronic signatures are not acceptable on initiative petitions. Wyman filed the request in Thurston County Superior Court last week. She has previously said she believes the Legislature should weigh in before her office unilaterally begins accepting electronic signatures. Some initiative sponsors have urged her office to accept them already, especially given concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic. Wyman said 67 initiatives to the Legislature have been proposed this year. The deadline to file initiatives for the upcoming session is Dec. 31. Sponsors need about 260,000 valid signatures to qualify.
Morgantown: West Virginia University is spending nearly $4 million on extra buses for public transportation between campuses this semester after its Personal Rapid Transit system was shut down due to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus. Ted Svehlik, WVU’s associate vice president of auxiliary and business services, said up to 2,400 people each day ride the buses between WVU’s Health Sciences, Evansdale and downtown Morgantown campuses. The buses are being provided by two local transit services, The Dominion Post reports. WVU’s in-person classes in Morgantown were halted earlier this month. Nearly all undergraduate courses were moved online temporarily after a recent uptick in virus cases. WVU spokeswoman April Kaull said WVU is using Coach USA buses at a cost of about $3 million, while Mountain Line Transit Authority buses are expected to cost $875,000.
Milwaukee: The Wisconsin Department of Health Services said Sunday that more than 100,000 people have tested positive for the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic. Officials confirmed 1,665 positive tests in the prior day, for a total of 101,227 cases. One new death was reported, for a total of 1,242 fatalities due to complications from COVID-19. Of the 8,320 test results processed in the past day, 20% were positive. The positivity rate Saturday was more than 18%. The update showed 362 patients were hospitalized, including 105 in intensive care units. Wisconsin ranks seventh in the country for new cases per capita in the past two weeks, according to the COVID Tracking Project.
Yellowstone National Park: Yellowstone National Park had its second-busiest August on record, but tourism is still down substantially this year, park officials say. The coronavirus prompted the park’s closure in March, and Yellowstone’s five entrances opened for spring automobile traffic a few weeks later than usual. The two Wyoming entrances opened May 18, followed by the three Montana entrances June 1. Park services including some restaurants and lodges gradually reopened over the summer season and much later than usual. In August, the park had 881,543 recreation visitors, up 7.5% from the year before for the second-busiest August on record. The busiest was August 2017, when tourists flocked to Wyoming to see a solar eclipse, park officials said. From January through August, Yellowstone had 2.5 million visitors, down 18% from the same period in 2019.
From USA TODAY Network and wire reports
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Hemingway bar, abandoned dog: News from around our 50 states